Basketball is just around the corner and EA timed it up perfectly, by sending us an early copy of the NBA Live 10 demo on the Xbox 360, which features the Orlando Magic @ the L.A. Lakers, played in an "NBA Finals atmosphere". You can only play the first half, in the demo, which is two, 4 minute quarters. Unfortunately, I'm not allowed to take screenshots or video from the game. Hoping to have beta code by mid-September, so keep your eyes open.
Here is a list of the players and their respective ratings.
Starters and Ratings
Starters and Ratings
Looking at the gameplay settings, you can change the difficulty (Rookie, Pro, All-Star and Superstar) and whether you want autosubs on or off.
All of the sliders can be adjusted from 0-100, but it's just a bar, you can't see an exact number.
Charge/Block Foul Frequency
Shooting Foul Frequency
Reach-In Foul Frequency
In-Air Collision Foul Frequency
User Free Throw Shooting
User Dunk/Lay-Up Strip Ability
User Contact Shot Percentage
User Steal Ability
User Interception Ability
User Shot Block Ability
User Dunk/Lay-Up Block Ability
User Offensive Rebounding
User Defensive Rebounding
User Short Range Shooting
User Medium Range Shooting
User Long Range Shooting
User Dunk Percentage
User Lay-Up Percentage
User Shot Alter Ability
User Hands in Post
User Hands on Perimeter
CPU Settings (As you can see, there are a few different ones for the CPU)
CPU Alley-Oop Frequency
CPU Dunk/Lay-Up Strip Ability
CPU Contact Shot Percentage
CPU Steal Ability
CPU Interception Ability
CPU Shot Block Ability
CPU Dunk/Lay-Up Block Ability
CPU Offensive Rebounding
CPU Defensive Rebounding
CPU Fakeout Discipline
CPU Short Range Shooting
CPU Medium Range Shooting
CPU Long Range Shooting
CPU Dunk Percentage
CPU Help Side Defense Effectiveness
CPU Closeout Effectiveness
CPU Shot Alter Ability
CPU Pass Accuracy
CPU Hands in Post
CPU Hands on Perimeter
You start off in the Hangar, where you can control 8 different players. They are Dwight Howard, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Brandon Roy, Amare Stoudemire, Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony. From here you can practice all of your moves. And practice is what you'll need, as there are quite a few controls that aren't listed in the controls menu. I'll go over some of them next. Mind you, you can't do the low post moves or play defense until you play an actual game, nor can you work on your free throws, which is simply a bar that goes from the left to the right. Holding the shot button starts the bar moving to the right, release it in the green area, to make the free throw. The better the free throw shooter, the slower the gauge fills up and the larger the green area is.
X is the shot button, tap it to pump fake. After the fake, if the defender bites, you can drive with the L-Stick. While in the post, move the R-Stick left or right for a spin move, ratings play a factor here, so if the AI guesses right, you will have the ball slapped away, or you will lose balance and lose control of the rock. Hold the right trigger and move the R-Stick left or right for dropsteps. If you beat a defender with a spin or dropstep, you can go right into a dunk, which looks very clean, if done right. Double tapping the shot button is for up and unders. There are quite a few animations that are just flat out disgusting (very nice).
Also, while backing down with a neutral stick, you'll see a regular post turnaround or hook, depending on ratings and distance. Pulling the L-Stick away from the hoop, is the fadeaway.
When driving to the hoop, holding the right trigger for turbo, brings the dunks. By default, the game is on Pro and it is a dunkfest, as I was dunking on fools left and right. Thankfully, we can adjust the difficulty to All-Star and the game plays great. No more dunkfests, in fact, I'll be lucky to get 2 or 3, not including fast breaks, and of those 2 or 3, they all look like they should. Not 360's in traffic.
It gets a little trickier in the next sequence, but becomes second nature after a few go arounds in the demo. Head towards the hoop, just before hitting the shot button, push the L-Stick to the left or right and make your layups on either side of the hoop. If you hold turbo, in the same sequence, you can do Euros, prohops and spin layups, which again, have very smooth animations. I've done a few stepback jumpers and a few other moves, but haven't figured out exactly how I did it.
Rebounding is very nice, animations are clean. Some of the nicer rebounding animations don't happen all of the time, boxing out a player with the "Y" button, works fairly well, letting go of the button makes the player jump to grab it. I've found that boxing out doesn't always work. Sometimes the player will jump instead of boxing out.
Closeouts are great. Hitting "Y" before the ball handler gets into the act of shooting, or is too far away, will close out. If he is shooting, you'll jump to contest the shot. Otherwise, if you are close, you will auto contest or you can press up on the R-Stick for the 2 hand contest.
At the play game screen, you can choose between home and away jerseys. The Lakers have home, second home and 61-62 home, while the Magic have road and 94/95 road jerseys.
While still in the pre-game hub, you can adjust your starting lineups, before heading off to the tipoff. The broadcast camera view is the only one available. There are no replays, other than showing off 1 highlight at the end of the 1st and 2nd quarters and you can't manually go into replay mode either, to check out the facial Howard just served up on Gasol. After the game is over, you can't restart, you have to head back into the hangar first, before playing another game.
It's gametime, let's talk about the gameplay. After watching Howard do his little pregame routine or Vince doing his pull up on the net (you can't see both) the first thing you notice after the tip, is floor spacing. Players are not lumping into a large traffic jam, they are free and actually look like they know what they are doing. Offensive and defensive players pointing and motioning teammates to get into position. You will actually see some players motioning the point guard to hurry up and get the play started.
The default game speed is perfect. I played around with the game speed and noticed that when you lower the speed too much, the turbo button will no longer work.
If you double the better passers, they will find the open man. In most cases, the man that is floating behind the arc, waiting to bury the three. I have seen on occasion, the AI stepping out of bounds, when trapped in a corner. Would be cool to see the AI maybe take a timeout in these situations.
While I mentioned one of the AI issues, let me go ahead and mention a few more I've seen. Let me state, while these issues have happened, I will show how many times, I've seen it happen. Mind you, I've probably played over 30 games in the demo.
- If the AI is going for a layup on the baseline and you're defending him tightly, they will occasionally force a layup that hits the back of the backboard, going out of bounds. (Seen this twice)
- Rebounds hitting the floor. (Seen this twice, so really this doesn't constitute to me as being an issue, but did want to mention it)
- Seeing an occasional foot going out of bounds and the whistle doesn't blow. (Of all the issues, this is the one I see the most, but I'd say I've seen it about 7 or 8 times now)
- I haven't seen any loose ball fouls, other than one time, which was an illegal screen.
- Hustle plays are cool, but there are times when the hustle kicks in and it's not needed. For example, Kobe would have had an easy breakaway dunk, but instead he dove for the ball (Seen it about 4 times)
- Also, only 1 time, Kobe hit a buzzer beater to end the 1st period, it was clearly a good basket, but the score didn't change and Kobe didn't get credit for the basket (1 time)
Defensively, you can assign players to double team and guard loose, medium or tight. You can also assign a specific player to defend any player you want. As for team defenses, there are 1/2 court man, 3/4 court man, 1-3-1 zone, 2-3 trap zone, 1/4 court man, full court man, 2-3 zone and 3-2 zone.
On the offensive side of the ball, wow. The Lakers have 392 plays to choose from and a lot of those plays have variations. You can choose plays from the post, perimeter, isolation, pick and roll, screener, post up and off ball screen.
To select plays, you simply press and hold the "LB" button, then select your play with the face buttons. To see more plays, while holding the "LB" button, press the "RB" button and more plays will be shown. 12 of them per player, giving you 60 plays to choose from during actual gameplay.
For pick and rolls, holding the "B" button brings a teammate over, then with "B" still pressed, you can hit the "RB" button to have the player setting the pick go to the hole or fade out to the perimeter.
Oh yes, the "Little Things". I can't forget about those. I've mentioned a few already, but here are quite a few more.
Derek Fisher gets a no-look from Kobe (using the freestyle/direct passing, which is GREAT, BTW). Fish grabs the rock and flips up a 3-ball, as he shoots it, Nelson is quickly trying to close out, clips Fisher and sends him to the ground, no-call, and Fisher drains it and looks up for a call.
Howard throws one down and Gasol pushes him to the floor after the dunk. (Can't confirm this, since I can't replay, but that is what I caught out of the corner of my eye)
Saw Vince Carter hack Kobe, realizing he hacked him fairly hard and Kobe lost his balance, he held Kobe up so he wouldn't fall.
Kobe calls a clear out, he waves everyone off to spread the floor.
Another Fisher/Nelson moment. Nelson was dribbling close to the sideline, just past half court. Fisher bumped him a little and he lost his balance trying to stay inbounds, you can see Nelson trying to maintain a very high dribble here as he is going out of bounds, Fisher steals it and throws up the alley-oop to Kobe on the other end, FANTASTIC STUFF RIGHT THERE!
Laker crowd breaks into a "Let's GO Lakers" chant, as the Lakers make their run.
Watching players cross the half court line, pulling up their shorts.
I had to laugh when I saw Artest point to his head, when Kobe was called for a reach in. Players will put their hands on their hips showing their disappointment, especially on big runs by the other team.
Players sense when the shot clock is winding down and instead of shooting normally, they will shoot a quick shot, to beat the buzzer.
Quick on the fly coaching, where you can look to substitute, change matchups, and change your coaching tactics for offense (up tempo, balanced, halfcourt) rebounding (crash boards, get back), pick & roll D (trap, show & recover, switch) and autosubs (auto, manual).
When getting hacked, there are quite a few different animations I've seen. Some hard, some soft, but all look very believable (except for some sliding in some cases). If the player goes up in traffic and thinks he gets fouled or gets the call, you actually hear the player yell out, OHH, AHH, like he just got hammered, trying to get the call.
All in all, the player movement is unbelievable. While there is the occasional sliding, for the most part when a player plants his foot, he plants it firmly. Coming off picks, running the baseline, everything looks so fluid. The mid-range game? It's MONEY! You feel rewarded seeing Lewis pop out on a screen and bury the mid-range, not just me as the user, but the AI will burn you too. They will actually use it and make you pay. There are a few times where I see the AI over passing the ball, but for the most part, if they work for that open jumper, it's wet.
For a demo, the game shows off a lot of things. I'm really excited to see what the beta code brings to the table in mid-September.